San Francisco, CA – July 16 marked an incredible evening for California Storm. After a 2-1 win away from home against San Francisco Nighthawks, the Storm were crowned NorCal Regional Champions.
The final game of the Storms WPSL regular season was hosted by the San Francisco Nighthawks who were not willing to let the Storm take 1st place with ease. Both teams applied pressure and looked for chances early on in the game. It was the Nighthawks who broke the score line after Cecilia SiFuetes slotted the ball past the Storm goal keeper and defenders from a wide angle.
Despite the early lead for the home team, Storm were not willing to be defeated. The goal boosted their energy, making them more determined to play creatively. After a set of neat passes throughout the Storm midfield, Nighthawks made a foul in order to stop the play. Brazilian national player, Sissi stepped up to take the free-kick. With the wind behind her, she lofted the ball with strength. The heads of the players awaiting the ball in the penalty area turned with the ball as it powered past the Nighthawks keeper.
Shortly after Sissi found the equalizer, the while blew for the end of the first half.
As the second half commenced, both teams continued to battle and hope to find the second goal of the game. However, the relentless Storm created many offensive plays that were stopped with some great saves by the Nighthawks goalkeeper.
With ten minutes left before the final whistle, a dangerous set-piece was awarded to the Storm on the very edge of the penalty area. Mexican national player, Teresa Noyola stood beside Sissi before the referee blew his whistle for the free-kick. Sissi ran towards the ball, but Noyola followed right behind her, Sissi ran past the ball and Noyola curved it perfectly over the heads of the wall into the top right-hand corner of the goal. The Storm team rushed to celebrate the excellence that was just witnessed at Nighthawks field by Teresa Noyola.
The final whistle blew, the scoreboard read 2-1 to the Storm, but the faces of the Storm team read a much bigger story. Finishing at the top of the NorCal region, the Storm earned themselves 25 points, with a 5point gap between second place.
Head Coach, Jerry Zanelli said, “Winning the region with a victory is what the team deserved. They have fought hard throughout the season and I believe this to be the strongest team the Storm has seen in a long time. We are ready to face the West-Division Championship, but more importantly, I am proud of the way my team has conducted themselves that has lead them to this point.”
The Storm will be playing on Saturday July 23, in the West-Division Regional Championship Semi-Final against the San Diego Sea Lions at Cal Expo Bonney Field 10:30 am KO.